Here’s the thing: I have a month of vacation. An entire month. I haven’t had a month of vacation since before med school started (since every summer has been filled with research or clinical responsibilities). And now, after six months of rotations, I have been given a single, glorious month.
I love to travel. It’s one of the reasons I chose medicine – to work in global health, and travel. My friends are not at all surprised to find that I consistently spend all the remnants of my student loan money to travel during my breaks. Frankly, it’s simply how I survive. Medical school is difficult in so many ways, and for me, one of those challenges is trying to stay in one place for four years. My answer is to travel as frequently as possible and generally in the most extreme manner I can afford. So far, this has meant a global health elective in Tanzania and a research elective in Brazil.
And right now, with a month of vacation, it means that I’m blowing my student loan money to go backpacking in Costa Rica with a couple similarly-minded friends.
I find myself constantly trying to justify these trips, because the reality is that I shouldn’t be spending my student loan money on this kind of thing. In a perfect world, I would not be taking out the maximum number of student loans, and I would be saving much more money than I am. But then I ask myself – do I really want to live in that perfect world? One of my friends put it nicely: he pointed out that right now, I happen to have time, but no money. In ten years, I will have money but no time. In a way, I’m borrowing from the future. (I just have to make sure that I have a job in the future.) So in one day, I’m flying to Costa Rica for ten glorious days of hiking, zip-lining, and lying on the beach.
We all have our guilty pleasures that help us survive and they vary in how guilty they make us feel. Mine happens to be traveling, which is unfortunately an expensive guilty pleasure, but oh so worth it. I’ve asked around with my friends, and I’ve gotten answers that range from ‘drinking heavily’ to ‘running marathons.’ I thought for a while as to whether or not I consider running a marathon a guilty pleasure, but I suppose it’s time consuming. And let’s face it, everything that takes time away from studying during med school will induce some guilt. So I’ll allow my friends to consider their incredibly healthy habits as guilty pleasures. (Meanwhile, I”ll continue to feel guilty for not running. What a vicious circle.)
So here’s my question for everyone reading this: what are the guilty pleasures that keep you sane during medical school? Points are given for creativity.
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All of the opinions expressed here are the author’s and hers alone, and do not represent necessarily those of Kaplan or its employees.